Anybody who has visited my Author’s Page at Amazon will already know a bit about me. I thought, by way of a change, I’d tell you about a few lesser known episodes. Before we decided to spend time in Greece, we were lucky enough to travel a lot and these stories happened in faraway places with strange sounding names, so apologies in advance for coming across as a travel bore. Hope you enjoy them.
Moments Best Forgotten:
On a trek through the Amazonian rainforest, our party was like something from an Agatha Christie story: an American pilot and his air-hostess wife; an elderly German doctor who rarely spoke; a beautiful young Dutch girl, along with her boyfriend [whose nose was well out of joint because the two male guides were obviously enamoured with her] – and us. Before we set off on small canoes into the night, we’d been given a talk about being careful not to step on snakes, what tree barks not to touch because they were poisonous, etc, and, most importantly, not to get lost as people go missing all the time in that environment.
It seemed to happen in seconds; one moment we were all together with the elderly doctor following the guides [who had both gone to the front for some reason], the next, our clutch of would-be adventurers were stranded because the good doctor was more intent on avoiding snakes than on keeping tabs on the guides who had more important things on their mind than us.
For almost an hour we were completely on our own with the realisation we may have to wait till daylight – or beyond – to be found.
Our party was divided, unable to agree on a single piece of the sage advice we’d been given, while the vines which offered to slake your thirst or kill you, looked exactly the same to our untrained eyes. And, just like in those hard-to-believe horror movies, the first thing somebody suggested we do was split up. Scary doesn’t cover it.
There has to be a story in there!
In Rajasthan, in northwestern India, we hired a local diver to take us around the desert state. Everything was great until we stopped at a railway crossing… and a guy with a cobra came towards our car.
To our horror he held the writhing snake inside the open window; hissing and spitting. I asked the driver to tell him to stop.
He didn’t stop.
A crowd had gathered round the car to watch the fun and we were trapped in the back seat with the reptile inches from our faces, its forked tongue darting in and out of its mouth. One of us was screaming the place down – I was happy to discover later on it was Christine. I spoke sharply to the driver again. He only shrugged as the stranger held the instrument of our terror even closer to us [he understood the snake handler was earning a living from tourists who would pay for him to leave].
Eventually the train passed and we were able to resume our journey. Just a game of Frighten The Tourist, but I’ll tell you, it worked.
And by the by, we got ourselves another driver.
Having recovered from our earlier trial we decided a night in the desert sitting round a campfire under a blanket of stars would be memorable.
We weren’t wrong!
We travelled into the Thar Desert [the birthplace of Out Of The Silence], and spent a glorious day watching camel drivers race over the dunes while a few stall holders made what they could from the day’s visitors. Eventually, the sun began to set and the riders tired of their games. We looked around for who else would be spending the night round our fire. One by one, all of the tourists climbed back into their vehicles to be driven back to their comfortable hotels.
Ah well, it would be just the two of us and our trusty guides. Very romantic.
We could see our guys over by a lean-to shelter, but there was no sign of our tent – or the meal we expected to see cooking on a welcoming fire. When we reached them they smiled and took us to the top of a dune, laid two rattan mats on the ground…and bid us goodnight.
This wasn’t what we signed up for. Not wanting to appear a wimp, I channelled my inner Laurence of Arabia and suggested we give it a go. Christine wasn’t sure.
We sat down on the flimsy mats hoping that the army of dung beetles [attracted by the ships’ of the desert leavings and more comfortable in the cooler evening temperatures – it was getting bloody cold and we didn’t have a jacket between us] making their way towards us, would bump off the edge of our mats and change direction.
In our dreams.
We watched as our drivers made their way to the jeep and realised we would spend the night in this wilderness completely alone, without food, water or heat; at the mercy of snakes, scorpions and Christ knows what else.
We didn’t need to speak. We legged it to the departing vehicle just in time.
The gods must have been laughing their heads off, for sure our guides were, but if nothing else, we’d saved our sanity.